Page images

tion and Concordance, barren of scientific Terms, and grating in its Cadence, we may, without hesitation, pronounce that the Speakers were a rude and barbarous Nation. The case will be altered much, where we find a Language masculine and nervous; harmonious in its articulation, copious in its phraseology, and replete with those abstract and technical terms which no civilized people can want. We not only grant that the Speakers were once a thinking and cultivated People; but we must confess, that the Language itself is a species of Historic Inscription, more ancient and more authentic also, as far as it goes, than any precarious hearsay of old foreign Writers; strangers, in general, to the natural as well as to the civil History of the remote Countries they describe.” “ An acquaintance with the Gaëlic, being the Mother Tongue of all


the Languages in the West, seems necessary to every Antiquary who would study the affinity of Languages, or trace the migrations of the ancient races of Mankind.” And yet, it is the only Language left untaught or unstudied, which can be of use to the Classic Scholar, the Historian, and the Antiquarian, of all Europe in general, and of these Northren Nations in particular. Of late, it has attracted the attention of the Learned in different parts of Europe; and shall its beauties be neglected by those who have opportunities, from their infancy, of understanding it?

Buť is not alone to the preservation of our Language that the labors of the Society will be confined, it embraces in its views, Objects of National Importance, which will prove interesting to the Literary World. The History, civil and ecclesias


[ocr errors]

tical of this Island, long celebrated for the Piety and Learning of its hospitable Inhabitants. The former will present a picture of the Laws, Manners, and Customs of Europe, previously to the Roman Conquest; the latter will fill a chasm in the History of Religion, during a period of darkness to Europe, save the light that shone in this Nursery of Learning. The translations of our ancient Laws, Annals, and other important Documents preserved from the ravages of time, and the more destructive waste of desolating revolutions. , The affinities and connections of the ancient and modern Languages, elucidated from the Mother Tongue, formed by Fenius from the radical terms of the Languages that sprung from the confusion of Babel; the truth of which tradition is proved by the fact, since the Gaelic will be found to contain most of the radicals and primi


tives of the various Dialects spoken from Aurora and the Ganges, to the Atlantic, the South Sea Islands, and America. The Gaëlic, says Shaw,* is the Language of Japhet, spoken before the Deluge, and probably the Language of Paradise. Several Essays are promised on Botanical and Mineralogical Subjects: In fine, nothing shall be left unhandled which can, in any wise, tend to illustrate the History, natural, civil, and ecclesiastical, of this Kingdom, and its Sister Scotland.

The Society intend, as soon as may be, to publish every Fragment existing in the Gaëlic Language. The History of Ireland, by Dr. Keting, in the original Gaëlic; with a new Translation, will shortly be put to press. There are still,


* Gaëlic Dictionary. Lond. 1780. Preface.


in existence, a variety of Tracts in History, Genealogy, Law, Physic, Poetry, and Romance. The Books of Ballymote and Lecan, in the Libråry of the Royal Irish Academy, contain much valuable Historic matter, a large Work on Irish Topography, several curious Poems, and a vast quantity of Genealogy. In the Library of Trinity College, (to which, indeed, Ireland is much indebted for preserving her valuable Records,) are many Fragments of Laws, well worth public attention, and several Volumes of Annals. We have still, in several private hands, copies of the Annals of Innisfallen, of the four Masters of Donegal, in five large Volumes; Annals of Tigernach, Boyle, Conacht, and Ulster; the Book of Conquests; numbers of fine Poems, many Volumes of History, Biography, Romance, &c. &c. which may soon be laid before the Public.


« PreviousContinue »